Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes

We're going to assume you've already bought all the ingredients for your Thanksgiving Feast, Version 2015, but in the odd event that you haven't, these Tom and staff-tested recipes from our Thanksgiving 2015 chef roundtable should help you make the final choices for your family table this year. All Recipes Courtesy the Chefs.

Chef Stacy Cogswell's walnut salad, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Chef Stacy Cogswell's walnut salad, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Recipes From Sara Foster

Roasted Winter Squash Casserole With Fresh Ricotta

A ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH YIELDS A HEAP OF LONG, LOVELY TENDRILS. But what it has in looks it lacks in taste, falling on the blander side of autumn’s yield. In this dish, butternut squash lends its cousin a touch of sweetness.  Makes one (9 x 9 x 2-inch) casserole / Serves 6 to 8

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded

1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.
  2. Place the squash cut side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and vinegar and place on the baking sheet with the squash. Add about 1/2 cup water and place in the oven to roast until the squash is tender to the touch and the tomatoes are caramelized around the edges, about 45 minutes. Remove the squash and tomatoes from the oven, and allow the squash to cool enough to handle.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  4. Take a fork and shred the spaghetti squash by running the fork down the inside of the squash, from the outside edge to the center. The squash will shred apart like spaghetti. Place in a large bowl. Scoop the flesh from the butternut squash and add to the bowl.
  5. Add the tomatoes, remaining olive oil, half the Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, remaining butter and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to mix. Spoon into the prepared dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  6. Place in the oven to bake until bubbling around the edges and slightly golden on top, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm.

On the Menu

VARIATION Spaghetti squash—like its noodle moniker—is a good vehicle for other vegetables or sauces. After roasting, try topping it with Everyday Bolognese (page 160), Fork-Tender Pork Ragù (page 158) or Spicy Meatballs in Marinara (page 163). For a simple side dish, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Kale And Collard Greens Gratin

WE OFFERED CREAMED SPINACH ON OUR HOLIDAY MENU FOR YEARS but now prefer this sturdier variation. Where spinach wilts and gives under the influence of creamy Gruyère, kale and collards hold their own, retaining their biting textures and flavors. Makes one (9 x 9 x 2-inch) casserole / Serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 ounce country ham or prosciutto, chopped

2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.
  2. Melt the olive oil with 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until sizzling hot. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the ham and continue to cook, just until the ham is crispy, about 3 minutes more. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about 1 minute more.
  3. Add the kale, collards and red pepper flakes, season with salt and black pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and broth and continue to cook until the greens are tender and the sauce is reduced and slightly thick, about 10 minutes.
  4. Spread the greens mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish and season with parsley, thyme and additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the greens. Top with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter, melted.
  5. Cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the oven to bake, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is golden brown and the juices in the gratin are bubbling around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let sit about 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

In the Kitchen

MIXING GREENS You can make this, as we used to do, with straight­up spinach. Or you can incorporate a variety of greens including beet, turnip, mustard, swiss chard and tatsoi. Almost any braising leaf works well. But if using spinach or other tender varieties, you will need about twice as much, as they tend to cook down more.

Sweet Potato Sorghum Biscuits

NORTH CAROLINA’S GO-TO POTATO (our state potato, in fact, thanks to a letter-writing crusade led by elementary-school students) lends its sunny hue and a hint of sweetness to these savory biscuits. Deck them out with other staples from the Tar Heel state, including Foster’s Pimiento Cheese (page 31) or vinegary pulled pork.   Makes about 1 dozen (21/2- to 3-inch) biscuits

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed

4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk, plus more if needed

1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)

2 tablespoons sorghum molasses

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal (or pulse 10 to 12 times in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade).
  4. Combine the buttermilk, sweet potato and sorghum in a separate small bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add this mixture to the flour-butter mixture and stir until the dough just begins to stick together, being careful not to overmix. Add up to 4 tablespoons more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough is still crumbly and not sticking together.
  5. Turn the dough onto a large piece of lightly floured waxed or parchment paper (this makes for easy cleanup) and knead several times just until the dough comes together, adding only as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your hands. Form the dough into a flat round. Pat or roll the dough to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
  6. Using a floured biscuit or cookie cutter, cut the dough into 21/2-to 3-inch rounds, dipping the cutter into the flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking and pressing directly down while careful not to turn the cutter.
  7. Place onto the prepared pan, leaving at least 1/2 inch between biscuits.
  8. Bake 15 to 17 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Remove the biscuits from the oven and serve warm.

SORGHUM MUSTARD Give your mustard more depth. Try this simple recipe, which relies on sorghum syrup in place of more common honey, and spread on ham biscuits.

Mix together 1/2 cup Dijon mustard with 2 tablespoons sorghum syrup and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Recipes From Stacy Cogswell

Pumpkin Bisque With Roasted Garlic Marshmallows and Spiced Pepitas

I can’t imagine a more fall-appropriate dish than this soup. It incorporates everything I love about this season into one bowl: pumpkin, spice and marshmallows. The savory marshmallows are an impressive touch, elevating this dish from just regular soup to a potential dinner-party course. The bisque is silky and tastes like fall and the marshmallows just melt in your mouth, while the pepitas add a nice crunch to each bite.

This recipe calls for fresh pumpkin for a reason. Canned pumpkin can sometimes have an artificial taste when used in savory dishes, so please take the time to prepare the real deal.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


1 (4 lb [1.8 kg]) pumpkin

2 ½ lbs (1 kg) bacon, chopped

2 ½ lbs (1 kg) onions, sliced

1 lb (455 g) leeks, sliced

2 cups (480 ml) sherry

2 tsp (5 g) nutmeg

1 tbsp (7 g) Chinese five spice

5 sage leaves

2 tsp (5 g) chili flakes

2 tbsp (30 g) salt

4 quarts (3.8 l) Vegetable Stock (page 197)

Roasted Garlic Marshmallows (page 18)

1–2 tbsp (8–16 g) Spiced Pepitas (page 21)

1 tsp (5 g) sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. Roast the pumpkin cut-side-down until tender, about 1 hour. Once cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh and throw the skin away. Set pumpkin aside.
  3. Render the bacon in a stockpot for 15 minutes. Add the onions, leeks, sherry and spices and cook for 15 minutes, until tender. Add the roasted pumpkin and vegetable stock. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Puree the soup in a blender. If making ahead, allow the soup to cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  5. Pour the hot bisque into your serving bowl and drop in the marshmallows. I like to use a kitchen torch to brûlée the top of the marshmallows. Sprinkle the pepitas and sea salt on top. Serve right away.

Roasted Garlic Marshmallows

This recipe can seem extremely intimidating and weird, but I promise you two things: it’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it and savory marshmallows are a delicious, unexpected complement to a dish. The sweet, roasted garlic flavor pairs quite well with the Pumpkin Bisque 

Although the garlic can be omitted in this recipe to make the traditional, sweet ‘mallows you know and love, I think that you’ll start craving marshmallows in a whole new way after trying these.

Yield: 10 to 15 servings

Marshmallow Syrup

1 cup (240 ml) water

2 ⅔ cups (510 g) granulated sugar

½ tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp salt

Roasted Garlic Puree

2 cups (300 g) garlic cloves

2 cups (475 ml) canola oil


¼ cup + 1 tbsp (75 ml) cold water

2 gelatin packets or 1 ½ tsp (6 g) gelatin

⅓ cup (80 ml) water

¼ cup (180 ml) Marshmallow Syrup

2 tsp (10 g) salt

1 tsp pepper

¾ cup (145 g) granulated sugar

1 cup (240 ml) Roasted Garlic Puree

For the Marshmallow Syrup, place all of the ingredients into a 4-quart (4-l) heavy pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan, and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 140°F (60°C). Remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.

For the Roasted Garlic Puree, place the garlic and canola oil into a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the garlic browns and is soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Once the garlic and oil have cooled, strain the oil and set it aside—I like to save mine for other cooking projects. Puree the garlic in a blender or, if you don’t have a blender, you can place the garlic in a bowl and crush it using the back of a spoon until it forms a paste.

To make the Marshmallows, place the cold water and gelatin into the bowl of a KitchenAid™ mixer. Set aside to allow the gelatin to bloom.

In a saucepan, bring the rest of the ingredients, except the garlic puree, to a boil. Cook until the temperature reaches 280°F (138°C). Remove from the heat and set aside.

Turn on the mixer and start breaking up the bloomed gelatin on low speed, then slowly drizzle in all of the sugar mixture. Once all of the sugar mixture is in the bowl, cover with a towel and turn the speed up to high. Whip for 10 to 15 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the garlic puree in batches on medium speed.

Spray a half sheet pan with pan spray and cover it with plastic wrap. Spray the plastic wrap with the pan spray. Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the plastic wrap and level it out using a spatula. Cover it and refrigerate for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, you can cut the marshmallows into ½-inch (13-mm)-size pieces. If not using right away, you can store them covered in a refrigerator for up to a month.

Spiced Pepitas

Although these Spiced Pepitas are the perfect little crunch your Pumpkin Bisque (page 17) needs and wants, they can also be used to garnish salads. The Cajun seasoning makes them salty, spicy and very addictive.

Yield: 1 cup (160 g)

1 cup (160 g) pepitas

2 tbsp (30 ml) canola oil

2 tsp (10 g) salt

2 tsp (10 g) pepper

1 ½ tsp (4 g) Cajun seasoning; I recommend McCormick brand

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven until toasted and slightly dark, about 10 minutes.

Frisée Salad with Confit Apples, Cheddar, Candied Pecans and Mead Vinaigrette

This crisp autumn salad manages to be hearty without overwhelming the meal, and it’s also great simply served on its own as a light dinner. It’s the perfect marriage of fall flavors—the sweetness of the apples and pecans is offset by the salty cheddar and acidic vinaigrette.

Yield: 2 servings

1 head frisée lettuce

4 oz (120 g) chunk of aged cheddar

4 cups (800 g) Confit Apples

½ cup (50 g) Candied Pecans

¼ cup (59 ml) Mead Vinaigrette

Prepare the frisée by cutting off the bottom and rinsing under cold water. Set aside to dry.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the cheddar into thin shards.

Gently toss the frisée, cheddar, Confit Apple, pecans and vinaigrette until combined. Serve immediately.

Confit Apples

This recipe is a delicious solution to the plethora of apples you get from apple picking in the fall, and it just so happens that it’s pretty versatile, too. Gently cooking the apples for a long time gives their sugars a more savory flavor. In addition, the woodiness of the vanilla and the rich, slightly bitter olive oil help offset the apples’ sweetness.

Confit Apples are great on all types of salads, but they also work quite well as an accompaniment for pork and chicken dishes.

Yield: 12 servings

6 Fuji apples

2 cups (473 ml) olive oil

2 cups (473 ml) canola oil

1 vanilla bean, split

1 cinnamon stick

3 allspice peppercorns

3 bay leaves

3 rosemary sprigs

Cut all apples in half and remove their cores, then cut into quarters.

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and slowly bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Cover with parchment paper so the apples cook evenly. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the apples are slightly tender. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the apples to steep in the hot oil until fully cooled, about 20 minutes.

Note If kept in oil in the refrigerator, Confit Apples will last for up to a week.

Mead Vinaigrette

Salads may seem out of place during the colder months, but having a good dressing recipe in your repertoire will change everything. This dressing has a sweet-and-sour honey profile with a touch of herbaceous flavoring from the fresh chives and tanginess from the mustard, making it a great complement to many types of greens—especially the bitter ones. It may seem strange, but this vinaigrette is sweet enough to be drizzled over pound cakes or even ice cream.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Mead Reduction

4 cups (946 ml) mead

½ cup (118 ml) honey

Mead vinaigrette

2 ounces (57 g) minced shallots

2 cups (473 ml) Mead Reduction

1 cup (237 ml) Champagne vinegar

2 cups (473 ml) canola oil

3 tbsp (47 g) Dijon mustard

1 tbsp (15 g) salt

1 tsp pepper

2 tbsp (6 g) chopped chives

Bring the mead and honey to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce by 75 percent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool completely before using.

To make the vinaigrette, add the shallots, Mead Reduction, vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper to a blender and blend until completely emulsified. Whisk in the chopped chives. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Note: Mead is a delicious honey wine that when reduced makes for a sweet, balanced vinaigrette. It can be substituted for any sweet dessert wine, such as icewine.

Candied Pecans

These sweet and spicy pecans are an easy way to add an extra little somethin’ to any salad. I like them in the Frisée Salad (page 22), but they’re so tasty that you can make them work in many ways. They’re also an irresistible snack—it’s hard not to munch on them as they sit on your countertop!

Yield: 2 cups (240 g)

2 cups (240 g) pecans

2 cups (383 g) sugar

2 cups (473 ml) water

1 tbsp (15 g) salt

2 tbsp (5 g) cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350F (177°C).

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until most of the liquid is gone, about 15 minutes. The mixture should be thick and syrupy. Be careful as the mixture will get extremely hot!

Remove from the heat and strain any liquid.

Put the pecans on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a Silpat nonstick sheet, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Allow the pecans to cool completely. They should have a hard candy crack to them. Break them up into pieces before using. You can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Note: If you’re not crazy about pecans, you can substitute walnuts in this recipe.

Squash Slaw

Slaw isn’t just for summer barbecues. This winter-appropriate slaw has bright flavors, while still being hearty enough for a chilly winter’s day. It’s much lighter than mayonnaise-based slaws and, I think, much tastier, too. If you’ve never had raw butternut squash, don’t fret! It’s sweet and crunchy and its beautiful orange color is a sight for sore eyes.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

1 cup (237 ml) cider vinegar

½ cup (120 ml) maple syrup

¼ cup (63 g) whole grain mustard

2 tbsp (5 g) picked thyme

2 tsp (10 g) + 2 tbsp (30 g) salt

1 cup (237 ml) canola oil

2 lbs (907 g) butternut squash, seeds removed, peeled and grated

1 head of green cabbage, julienned

6 scallions, julienned

1 red onion, julienned

Add the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, thyme and 2 teaspoons (10 g) of salt to a blender. Blend while slowly drizzling in the canola oil to emulsify completely. Set aside.

Mix the grated squash, cabbage, scallions, red onions and 2 tablespoons (30 g) of salt together. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and toss with the dressing.

Slaw can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container. If it seems too soupy, just drain off some of the liquid before eating.

Recipes From Renee McLeod

Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Pie

Makes 8 servings

Crust (or purchase one)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, 1/4 cup ice cold water, 2Tbl white vinegar

Place dry ingredients in bowl add cut up pieces of butter, and shortening, mix together using your fingers or a pastry cutter when small crumbs have been achieved ad the water and white vinegar, squeeze together, wrap in plastic wrap for at least an hour,. When ready, roll out into a 9” pie pan


    • 1 cup pure maple syrup
    • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 9” pie crust
    • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Use a leftover sweet potato and slice it up, put in bottom of pie pan or bake a large 1 ½ lb sweet potato for an hour at 375, Peel and slice it.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Place unbaked crust on baking sheet. Place sliced sweet potatoes in bottom of pan Pour filling over. Sprinkle nuts on top of filling. Bake until filling is set and slightly puffed, about 1 hour. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie with Brown Sugar Walnut Crumb Topping

Crust  (or purchase one)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, ¼ cup unsalted butter ¼ cup shorrening, 1/4 cup ice cold water, 2Tbl white vinegar

Place dry ingredients in bowl add cut up pieces of butter, and shortening, mix together using your fingers or a pastry cutter when small crumbs have been achieved ad the water and white vinegar, squeeze together, wrap in plastic wrap for at least an hour, make the filling and let it sit refrigerated during this time. When ready, roll out into a 9” pie pan


½ cup sugar

2 Tbl cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

3 cups thinly sliced, peeled tart apples

3 cups thinly sliced, peeled ripe pears

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries


1/2 cup all purpose all-purpose flour

1/4  cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cold butter

1/2  cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  •  Heat oven to 375°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate
  •  In large bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and allspice. Gently stir in apples, pears and  cranberries. Let sit and macerate for at least an hour (for even better results, leave it overnight) Pour filling into crust-lined pie plate.
  • 3 In small bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over filling.
  • 4 Line 15x10-inch pan with foil; place on oven rack below the rack pie will be baked on to catch any spillover. Loosely cover pie with sheet of foil; bake 1 hour. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Place on pie rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Bourbon Peacan Pie


  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tsp v anilla extr act
  • 2/ 3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 oz. (1/ 2 cup) unsalted butter , cut into four
  • 1/ 2 cup rice syrup, ORlight corn syrup
  • 1/ 2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp bour bon (Maker’s Mark  or Knob Cr eek )
  • 1/ 2 tsp kosher  salt
  • 1 1/ 2 cups pecan halv es, toasted, cooled and coarsely  chopped
  • 1/ 2 cup chopped semi-sweet OR bitter sweet chocolate


  • 7.5 oz (1 2/ 3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 oz. (3/ 4 cup) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 5-7 tbsp ice w ater
  • 1 tbsp w hite v inegar

Preheat oven to 425°. Position rack to center of oven.

Put eggs into medium, heat proof bowl. Add vanilla.

Combine sugar, butter, syrup, cream, bourbon and salt in 1 quart saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is hot but not boiling (3-5 minutes).

Whisking vigorously and constantly, very slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the eggs.

Strain through a fine strainer set over a quart measuring cup. Set aside.

Put flour and 1 tsp salt in food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until the largest pieces are about the size of corn ke nels (8-12 one-second pulses).

Drizzle 5 tbsp ice water and 1 tbsp vinegar into flour mixture and pulse until mixtur e becomes a moist crumbly dough that sticks together (4-6 pulses).

Gather dough and press into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour (or up to two days).

Let dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly. Roll out to 13 inches round.

Transfer dough to 9 inch pie plate. Trim off but 3/ 4 inch of over hang. Roll dough under itself to build edge of crust, and crimp w ith fingers. With fork, prick crust. Chill pie plate in fridge for an hour.

Remove chilled dough and line w ith foil. Fill pie plate w ith dr ied beans or pie weights. Back for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Reduce oven temperature to 375° and bake 5- 7 minutes more. Cool on rack, reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Spread pecans evenly in cooled pie crust. Sprinkle chopped chocolate evenly over pecans. Slowly pour filling over pecans.

Place pie plate on baking sheet and bake until center of pie is slightly firm to the touch (35-40 minutes)


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